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Yes, turnout stunk in HD124

What did you expect?

Ina Minjarez

How low can you go? Apparently 2.25 percent.

That’s the share of registered voters who cast ballots Tuesday in the special election for Texas House District 124. According to unofficial results, less than 2,000 of the district’s 88,006 registered voters weighed in.

If that number stands when the votes are certified, it will mark an unflattering milestone for a state with an already bad rap when it comes to voter participation — the lowest turnout rate on record in a competitive special election for a legislative seat.

Tuesday’s contest, which sent two Democrats to a yet-to-be-scheduled runoff, was the sixth special election held in Texas, and the third in Bexar County, since last November. The past four months have seen special elections with four of the 10 lowest turnout rates in modern Texas history, according to data provided by the Texas Legislative Council that did not include runoffs.

Analysts say it’s no surprise voters are skipping the polls, especially in the election-weary San Antonio area. Bexar County elections administrator Jacque Callanen said Tuesday’s election was the area’s 13th in the same number of months.

“I think it’s voter fatigue, but also I think it’s for many of our voters, they don’t know what they’re about,” Callanen said of the quick-turn elections. “They don’t know who’s running. I think it’s just a big combination of that.”


Ina Minjarez, the former Bexar County prosecutor who was the top vote-getter Tuesday, said her campaign knew that — between the recent slew of special elections and ongoing San Antonio city races — it would be up against voter exhaustion. After six campaign mailings, she still ran into confused voters. The election was called after former state Rep. José Menéndez won a promotion to the upper chamber in his own special election.

“They would say, ‘Well, we voted for José already,’ and they didn’t know there was already another election to fill his seat,” Minjarez said.

The people in HD124 have been asked to vote three times already this year – January 6 for the SD26 special election, February 17 for that race’s runoff, and now March 28 just for HD124. That last race took place 39 days after an intense and bitter runoff, and it happened without there being any advance work done by the eventual candidates, who ultimately had less than 30 days to run a campaign, because no one knew that the next special election would be in HD124 and not HD116. Oh, and in the meantime there’s a multi-candidate Mayoral race going on, which is sucking a lot of the oxygen out of the room. Who can blame the voters for being confused and a little worn out? It’s nobody’s fault, and Greg Abbott has actually done everyone a favor by scheduling the HD124 race as quickly as he did after the SD26 runoff, because it will give either Ina Minjarez or Delicia Herrera a chance to actually represent the district during this session. So without minimizing the generally sorry state of voter participation in Texas, let’s cut these folks some slack. Between this runoff and two rounds of city races, they’ll have voted in every month through June by the time all is said and done. You’d be cranky about it, too.

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